RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.

Many people want to believe that cold calling doesn't work because they don't want to have to get on the phone. Indeed, there are many ways to do it wrong and fail. Many cold callers use deceptive tactics to get through and leave a bad taste in buyers' mouths.

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Do you know what it’s going to take to reach your sales target? It’s not enough to have a quota or even set goals for yourself—you need to know exactly what to do daily to accomplish your goals.

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The practice of sales prospecting is surrounded by confusion and misconceptions. Prospecting may sound simple enough, but ask a group of sales professionals about the best prospecting approaches and you’re bound to get several conflicting answers.

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66% of respondents agree that people in their organization don’t dedicate enough time or energy to prospecting, according to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research. Beyond that:

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: “Put me in front of ten buyers and I'll close seven of them. All I need is more meetings.” I hear this from sellers all the time. They're convinced they'll get the hits if they just get more at-bats. But where are those at-bats going to come from? No salesperson ever hit home runs by sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring or their email to ding. To succeed in sales, you need to proactively generate a consistent stream of new leads to fill the front end of the pipeline.

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TL;DR? Download the PDF and save it for later. Many sellers assume buyers don't want or need to talk to them early in the buying process.  This simply isn't the case. In fact, our prospecting research reveals buyers want to hear from sellers early.  When Do Buyers Want to Hear from Sellers in the Buying Process?

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As a seller, you’re trying to build relationships with potential buyers. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. The more you get to know your buyers, and let them get to know you, the easier it is to sell to them. But first, you have to break through the noise, capture their attention, and create conversations with them. This is easier said than done. To do this, you need to engage in what we call an Attraction Campaign. An Attraction Campaign is a coordinated series of messages with strong value-based offers deployed across multiple channels that'll get you on your buyer’s radar and make that buyer more likely to want to start a conversation.

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To succeed in sales, you need a steady stream of new opportunities entering the pipeline, whether it's with new clients or existing accounts. That's not as easy as it used to be, given that people are now working, buying, and selling virtually, and many organic opportunities to create sales opportunities have disappeared.

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Prospecting is a challenge for even the most experienced sellers, and with the shift to working, buying, and selling virtually, organic opportunities to make new connections and create conversations have disappeared. There aren't any in-person networking events, tradeshows, travel, or opportunities to grab dinner, a cup of coffee, or attend a sporting event together.

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How many times have you received a prospecting email or phone call and said, "Sure, let's meet right away?" If you're like most of us, it probably doesn't happen very often. If you're on the other side and the one sending emails or making calls, what's your success rate? Probably pretty dismal. Congratulations! You're like most of the people we surveyed.

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There are few areas of selling filled with more uncertainty, challenges, and conflicting advice than prospecting. Success in sales prospecting requires breaking through the noise to capture buyers' attention and influence them to meet with you. Which begs a few questions: What does capture buyers’ attention? Do buyers want to hear from sellers, and if so, when? How should sellers reach out and connect with buyers?

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This article was originally published on the Sales Enablement Society. Sellers often complain that it's impossible to get through to buyers. Gatekeepers are tough. Buyers are busy. Calls go to voicemail. Email goes to junk. The list goes on. While getting through certainly isn't easy, sellers who work at it do get through. In fact, 82% of buyers say they accept meetings at least sometimes with sellers who reach out to them.

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This piece originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Independent Agent magazine and is reprinted here with permission. Word of mouth, repeat business and referrals used to be enough to maintain a thriving sales organization. But today, buyers have more options than ever before, they're more educated, and the phone doesn't ring like it used to. That means sellers need to be proactive in growing their pipelines and securing meetings with buyers. Here are five ways to get started:

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Sales prospecting has changed more than any other facet of sales in the last 10 years. There are a lot of clickbait articles with radical advice popping up and leading sellers astray. In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we undertook a study of 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers to find out what's working and what's not in sales prospecting. In this infographic, we contrast 5 popular assumptions about prospecting with facts from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research.

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How many attempts does it take to break through to busy buyers? What offers are most accepted? Do cold meetings convert to new business? In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research uncovered the answers to these critical prospecting questions. With data from 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers, we've cracked the code on what works in prospecting today. This infographic highlights 30 must-know stats from our research and analysis and what they mean for sellers in today's world.

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Put me in front of 10 buyers and I'll close 7 of them. All I need is more meetings. I hear this from sellers all the time. Get me more "at bats" and I'll get the hits. To succeed in sales, you need a consistent stream of new leads to fill the front end of the pipeline. You can't, however, just sit back and wait for the phone to ring or email to ding. You need to be proactive in filling your own pipeline if you're going to succeed with prospecting.

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How many touches does it take to make a sale? The simple answer is: more than most people think! According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale.

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There are 2 stats that are cited in sales articles all the time: 57% of the purchase decision is made before a customer calls a supplier 67% of the buying journey is now done digitally The question, however, is so what? Sellers and sales leaders often interpret this to mean that buyers don't want to hear from sellers. This is far from the truth.

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Buyers are awash with information, bombarded with sales and marketing messages, crazy busy, and tasked to do more with less. Yet they still want to hear from sellers and they still accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them proactively. 82% of buyers will accept meetings with sellers who reach out. The sellers who secure these meetings achieve significantly greater success with a much different approach.

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We all love repeat business, referrals, and inbound warm leads. The problem is you can’t scale warm leads. When these run out, so does your ability to grow your revenue, unless, of course, you prospect and drive new leads in the pipeline yourself.

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Email prospecting is a hot topic these days—and it should be because it works. Or at least, it works when it's done right. In 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked, we found that email is the #1 way buyers prefer to be contacted by sellers.

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As a seller, one of your most difficult tasks will be breaking into new accounts and setting meetings. Most of us have some form of cold prospecting in our past, so we all know how lonely it can sometimes feel. But if you want to be successful in sales, you need to be able to build your own pipeline and drum up your own business.

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In our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we found that the number one factor separating sales winners from second-place finishers is this: Sellers educated buyers with new ideas or perspectives. In other words, the seller became known as a source of insight.

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What is the #1 challenge or issue you face when it comes to growing sales for your business? When I recently reached out to my network and asked that same question, 75% mentioned sales prospecting as their #1 challenge. The problem isn’t that people don’t know what to do; it’s that what they’ve always done no longer works. Want proof? Think about the last time you met an actual decision maker at a networking event, and that conversation led to a sale. How about from a cold call? Trade show? Advertisement? The simple truth is this: if you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll get the same results everybody else is getting.

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Cold prospecting – reaching out to targets you don’t know to generate an initial meeting – is one of the hardest parts of sales. Partly, it’s a numbers game. With decision makers more insulated than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to get past gatekeepers and beyond voicemail. But what happens when you do get a cold prospect to pay attention – whether it’s because they picked up the phone, or responded to an email or a direct mail piece? Do you feel like you nail it every time? Much prospecting success is determined in this first interaction. Many opportunities die here before you have a chance to engage.

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It's 2001. You work for a new company in the search engine space. Let's call this company Shmoogle. Shmoogle has this huge new idea—businesses are starting to grow based on getting found on the Internet. Why not have businesses pay per click to get found? Brilliant! You're a sales person at Shmoogle, and you know pay per click will be huge. You start prospecting on the phone.

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